How to Market Your Business During COVID-19
Hint: You need to show up for clients and start SERVING them well. Think creatively and pivot to build an audience in this unprecedented worldwide pandemic.
The world has been forever changed, there’s no doubt about it. As people all over adjust to what will become a new normal, we'll experience changes in how we learn, how we move, and how systems work. Our daily habits and routines are likely to get a major upgrade as well. I’m hopeful these changes will be for the better. Going through hard things generally makes people stronger. As you see the impacts this virus has on your family, friends, and community members – don’t let fear stop you from believing in the strength of the human spirit and the power of community.
Four years ago, my husband and I dreamed up a small business. As former journalists and passionate storytellers, we envisioned using our time in the most magnificent way we could imagine – telling the stories of businesses and individuals everywhere who were looking to make a difference in the world. We dreamed big, but we thought small. What better way to impact the world than by supporting small businesses in our own community? So we began the work that lights our hearts on fire. We began using digital storytelling (video, audio, and visual) to help small business owners tell their stories and reach audiences online. We watched as our clients built engaged communities on social media and connected to others by sharing their ideas, life stories, and cherished moments with a bunch of strangers on the internet.
When the news of COVID-19 and the devastating impact it could have on clients started to trickle in – we moved. That’s what journalists do – they run towards the fire, not away from it. We contacted clients and filmed videos ahead of time. We acted as if the worst would happen and we were prepared when it did. Because you know what thrives in times of crisis? Community. People come together because they need to. Regardless of social distancing our clients are making an impact online. They’re not selling stuff. They’re encouraging people to come together. They’re giving from their pockets and hearts and they’re pivoting creatively to serve the needs of their audience.
We are humbled and privileged to assist them in that work. That’s what you’re marketing company should be doing for you. But they can’t do that from a state away. They don’t understand what it means to serve people in your town. People who are your neighbors, your friends, your family. As everyone practices social distancing and works to stay away from each other, people are coming together online in incredible ways. Now’s the time to make an impact – it’s not about you or your revenue or your sales numbers now – it’s about service. Focus on serving others however you can and you will THRIVE. We can help you do that work and tell those stories – it’s OUR hearts work.
Social media is beautiful gift – don’t waste it, especially now.
Here are some ways you can have more influence and make a bigger impact online:
- Use the technology available at your fingertips: I know technology can be frustrating. But now is the time to try that new tool or learn the features of your smart phone. For instance, several of our clients are learning how to use live video features, shooting film on their phones, and playing with apps to connect with people online. The tools are already likely in your hands and all the information to use them is on the internet. What better time to learn? Sure, you can hire a marketing company to take over when this is all over if you want, but don't miss an opportunity to be telling stories online NOW.
- Be honest and vulnerable, we’re all in this together: As I mentioned above, now is not the time to be only pushing products online. Now is the time to be REAL. Everyone around the world is dealing with the effects of this crisis. Those people in your community know you and your business. How are you coping? Maybe what you can offer right now has little to do with your business and more to do with what you can give them to make it through the day. Think outside of the box. One of our clients, a restaurant owner, was also a therapist. He's gotten online to talk about how to maintain happiness in a crisis. Start thinking like that, it's all about service, remember?
- Plan for the worst and hope for the best: I know it's hard to think about finances and plans right now, but you've got to get a long term plan in place. Think about new possible revenue streams. Get scrappy and get creative. Think about what you can do online or how you can serve clients during social distancing. Some of the best innovation happens during times of crisis. Don't believe me? Air B&B formed during the 2008 recession. Sir Isaac Newton started developing calculus during the Great Plague. Look, you might not start contemplating the universe, but at least start thinking creatively about your business. Sometimes it takes less than ideal solutions to force human beings to be creative. We're going come out of this and hopefully your business will be stronger and better.
- Be a team player, how are you serving people in your community beyond your business? :I'm just going to say it, it's crass to be ONLY pushing product online now. I mean, who wants to see someone trying to take advantage of a worldwide pandemic to push product? Don't be gross. EVERYTHING you post, share, and distribute should be focused on serving your clients. And heads up, MANY of them are dealing with job loss and potential job loss or worse, health issues. Be a compassionate human, what can you do to help them? Maybe it's a free meal or a cup of coffee. Donate something to medical care workers (and then post it online). Be nice. People will respect you and remember you for giving back. When the economy comes back, they'll remember you.
- SERVE, SERVE, SERVE: Give back and be kind. Look to connect and build community that goes beyond revenue and is focused solely on service. That's how you build trust and loyalty - two things you CAN'T purchase ;).